INTRODUCTION: In our last message, we began an extended series from the New Testament book of Philippians. As you read through this book, which is one of the most intimate of all the Apostle Paul's letters, you will discover that it is a love letter filled with expressions of gratitude, confidence, and above all joy. Instead of being filled with rebuke and correction, it's a book that helps us to understand the importance of what goes on inside of us as a Christian.
Psalms 118:24 tells us "This is the day the Lord hath made, we will REJOICE and be GLAD in it." Joy, the theme of the book, is found in Philippians 4:4, "REJOICE in the Lord always, and again I say, REJOICE."
EIGHTEEN times the words, joy, rejoice and gladness are used in this letter. In our last message we focused on an outline of the 4 chapters of Philippians showing how we can have JOY over circumstances, people, things, and worry.
Chapter ONE: You can have JOY in spite of CIRCUMSTANCES with the SINGLE MIND where Christ is the PRINCIPLE of life, verse 21.
Chapter TWO: You can have JOY in spite of PEOPLE with the SUBMISSIVE MIND where Christ is the PATTERN of life, verse 5.
Chapter THREE: You can have JOY without THINGS if you have the SPIRITUAL MIND where Christ is the PASSION of life, verse 10.
Chapter FOUR: You can have JOY over WORRY when you have the SECURE MIND where Christ is the POWER of life, verse 13.
Now for the most part in this message, we are going to focus on Philippians 1:1-2, “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: (2) Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here we come to understand three things the Apostle Paul tells us about a Christian:
First: Who the Christian is,
Second: Where the Christian lives, and
Third: What the Christian receives.
However, before we get into the heart of these introductory verses, there are a few observations that need to be made.
Philippians 1:1 begins by identifying "Paul and Timothy the servants of Jesus Christ…" When you read this very thoughtful letter, it's not long before you discover some of the outstanding characteristics of the writer, the Apostle Paul.
First: Paul was a FRUITFUL servant of God, verse 1, "Paul and Timothy the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi…" If you would go back sometime to the 16th chapter of Acts you would discover the beginning to this church at Philippi. It was here that Paul came in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit. While he was there:
Lydia, a Jewish proselyte, a successful business women of social standing, was converted. A gentile fortune teller who had no social standing and a slave girl were gloriously saved, and a jailer, who asked Paul and Silas in jail "What must I do to be saved?" believed what Paul said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."
As a result of these conversions, a church was established. Now, Paul is communicating to the saints, helping them to grow in Christ.
Second: Paul was a THOUGHTFUL servant of God, verse 2, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” He wanted God's best for these believers at Philippi. His goal and desire was for the grace of God to develop in their lives that they may have peace.
Third: Paul was a THANKFUL servant of God, verse 3, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,” You know, it's a wonderful thing for a Pastor to be able to say that about his congregation. Yes, and what a joy it is for me to be able to look at you, and to say I thank God upon every remembrance of you.
Fourth: Paul was a PRAYERFUL servant of God, verse 4, “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, (5) For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now…”
Fifth: Paul was a JOYFUL servant of God, verse 4, “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,” Again, I remind you this was not written in some Hotel penthouse. Paul was in the Roman Maritime prison when he penned these words, and yet he was joyful. Paul's joy was found in Christ.
The secret of the believer’s joy is found in his attitude, the way a "BELIEVER THINKS." While Christ is the source of the believer’s joy, the mind is the channel through which that joy comes.
Sixth: Paul was a HOPEFUL servant of God, verse 6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Here Paul expresses his hope.
So as you begin this epistle, you soon discover the character of the Apostle Paul. As a man of God, he was HOPEFUL, JOYFUL, PRAYERFUL, THANKFUL, FRUITFUL, and FAITHFUL. All of these qualities characterized the Apostle Paul.
As I read these opening words, I find there is something else that characterizes this man of God. He was a HUMBLE person of God. You see that quality in his opening statement, "Paul and Timothy, the SERVANTS, of Jesus Christ…" Interestingly,
In the introduction to Philemon, he calls himself a "…Prisoner of Jesus Christ…"
In the introductions to nine of his letters, he calls himself "…an apostle of Jesus Christ…"
In the introductions to Philippians and Titus, he calls himself “…a servant of Jesus Christ…"
Now, the word Paul in the Latin means "little" or "small". Before God, Paul saw himself as "the chief of sinners" and "the least of all the saints." But more than that, Paul saw everything in his life through the lens of his slavery to Jesus Christ.
To Paul the term "servant" was a title of dignity and humility. There was no greater position than to be a servant of Jehovah God. Paul was a servant. A servant was one who served another. As a servant, he did all he could to make the ONE he was serving successful.
Paul's joy as a servant was lifting up the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul's joy as a servant was proclaiming the risen Christ.
We all would do well to remember that God did not save us to be sensations, but rather to become servants. Humble service is another dominate theme in this letter to the saints at Philippi.
Besides the example of a servant’s lifestyle found in Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus, the greatest model of servanthood is Jesus Christ. In chapter 2:5-7 we read, "Christ Jesus…took upon him the form of a servant,…" even though He was the sovereign God.
Holding your place here, would you please turn with me to Mark 13? Here, we have what is called the "Olivet Discourse." Jesus was informing His disciples of His leaving, and what will take place before His return. He is also informing them of what their responsibilities are to be before His return. In verses 32-37 we read,
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. (33) Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. (34) For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. (35) Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: (36) Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. (37) And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”
Notice again the phrase in verse 34, "and gave authority to His servants, and to every man his work…" The Lord Jesus has gone back to glory. Today He is in heaven. To each one of us, while we are still here on this earth, He has given a specific task to do. He has given, to every born again believer, a JOB to do, a capacity to fulfill.
Now, if you attend this church, and you worship here, but you are not vitally connected to us by membership, and yet you benefit from the ministry of this church and the pastors here, I would ask you to consider, this morning, not only "YOUR NEED OF US" but "OUR NEED FOR YOU," to become officially connected to this body of believers.
I believe church membership is spiritually and scripturally right for a child of God. You not only ought to get with it, but also to be involved in it.
On the other hand, maybe you are already a member of this church, and you come every week. In fact, you are here all the time. Then, I believe it's important for you to consider "WHAT YOUR SERVICE FOR GOD IS TO BE, THROUGH THIS ASSEMBLY OF BELIEVERS."
The church is not only a place of fellowship and preaching, but it is also a "VEHICLE THROUGH WHICH PEOPLE CAN SERVE GOD." I challenge you to be thinking about your service in the coming days.
Jesus is in Heaven today, and in the interim before He returns, He has given every one of His servants a job to do. There is an old poem that is a take-off on the hymn "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord." The poem goes like this:
I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
Real service is what I desire.
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord,
But don't ask me to sing in the church choir.
I'll say what you want me to say Dear Lord,
I like to see things come to pass.
But don't ask me to teach a Sunday
School class of boys and girls,
I’d rather sit in my class.
I'll do what you want me to do dear Lord,
I yearn for the kingdom to thrive.
I'll give my nickels and dimes dear Lord
But please don't ask me to tithe.
I'll go where you want me to go dear Lord,
I'll say what you want me say.
But I am busy with myself right now dear Lord,
I'll help you some other day.
I trust that you will not let that poem characterize you, since you never know when life is going to end, and when it does, the opportunities for service will be gone.
Years ago, there was a fine Christian gentleman by the name of John Wanamaker. He was a man on fire for God, a very, very busy man. He not only owned one of the largest department stores in Philadelphia, but he was at one time the Post-Master General of the Untied States, as well as the president of the YMCA.
One day someone came to Mr. Wanamaker and asked him, "How do you find time to run a Sunday School of 4000 people in addition to the YMCA duties, the responsibilities of the postmaster general and direct your store. Mr. Wanamaker replied saying, "The Sunday School is my business, all those other things are just that, things. Forty-five years ago, I decided God's promise found for us in Matthew 6:33 was true, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these THINGS shall be added unto you." I decided to put God's work first, and then He gave me the ability to cope with all those other things."
You see, John Wanamaker had his priorities straight. The Apostle Paul had his priorities straight too. The Kingdom of God and His cause came first. It was to this end that Paul said to us in Philippians 3:7-14,
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
What was that mark? It was putting the cause of Christ first. To every believer, God has given His work.
Maybe your God given work is to be a HOUSEWIFE and MOTHER preparing the next generation that will rise up to serve God.
Maybe your God given work is in that office or work place as you stand with the courage of your convictions to be a witness for the glory of God.
I also believe there is God given work for you in the congregation. If you have not already determined this, I trust with God's help you will soon discover what it is that the Lord wants you to be and to do.
Paul was more than a servant. He was a "Bondslave," as indicated by the word "Doulos" in the Greek, referring to the very lowest of servants. Paul joyfully announced that He was a "Bondslave" to the Christ who saved him. In a spiritual sense, Paul had the same testimony as the slave in Exodus 21:5, "I love my master…I will not go out free."
Now for the remainder of this message, let’s focus upon the three things the Apostle Paul tells us about a Christian.
Number 1. Who the Christian is: Returning to Philippians 1:1; we move from the very lowest of words, "Servant," to the very highest of titles that a person can receive. That is found in the word "Saint." How can you go beyond that? Paul is writing to "all the saints in Christ Jesus, which are at Philippi…"
The word for "saint" comes from the Greek word "hagaios." In the New Testament, the word is often translated not by the word "saint," but by the word "holy." Those two words, "saint" and "holy," are interchangeable, they mean the same thing. So we could read here, "Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the HOLY ONES in Christ Jesus…”
Question: "More than anything else, by what should our lives be characterized?” Some might answer that our lives should be characterized by LOVE. I would agree. However I believe we ought to strive higher and be characterized by HOLINESS. The root of the word "hagaios" means to be "set apart." It means separation and consecration.
Holiness means SEPARATION from the things of this world.
Holiness means CONSECRATION separating ourselves apart for God.
Those of us who are saints should live as saints, and not bring disgrace and reproach upon Him who died on the cross in order that we might BE saints.
The idea and practice of making men and women saints, by bestowing "sainthood" upon them after they are dead, is strictly man-made dogma. It is definitely not Bible doctrine. The moment we have by faith trusted Jesus Christ as personal Saviour, we become a saint. We become a holy one. We are now to conduct ourselves "as becometh saints."
Christians, who live as the world, who live like the world, do more to destroy the name of Christ and the effectiveness of the church in a community then do all unbelievers put together.
The moment we come to Christ by faith we become a "Christian" and a "Christian" means "Christ-like."
If you bear the name "Christian" then you should be living "Christ-like" lives.
The NAME and the NATURE of a believer ought to coincide. We should not only bear the NAME "Christian" but also the NATURE of a Christian.
What is that nature? It is that of a "Saint," a “Holy One.”
The desires of our lives "ought to be that which becometh a saint." Here in our church, we have qualifications for those who are in leadership, teaching and ministering positions. It concerns me when I see folks in those positions who don't take a stand for BIBLICAL SEPARATION and CONSECRATION unto God. We all ought to be concerned about separation in our lives, because God is. As a saint, we are to be different than those who are unsaved.
One day, a Sunday School teacher asked his class of boys, “What is a "saint"? One little fellow looking at Saint Peter through the stained glass window in his class room said, "A saint is someone the light shines through."
That might sound simple, but that is profound. That's what a saint is. Not only the love of God, and the mercy of God, but the holiness of God ought to be seen in and through our lives as believers, and in and through our lives as a congregation.
We ought to be marked by sainthood.
We ought to be characterized by a life of holiness.
Separated, dedicated, and consecrated to the cause of Jesus Christ – now that is the answer as to "Who a Christian is."
Number 2. Where the Christian lives: According to Philippians 1:1; we discover that saints live in two locations:
First: "To all the saints in Christ Jesus…" this is the spiritual location of the saint.
Second: "…who are at Philippi…" this was their geographical location.
As far as you and I are concerned, as believers we live "in Christ Jesus." This is our spiritual location. In Acts 17:28; we read, "For in Him (that is in Christ) we LIVE and MOVE and have our BEING…"
As a Child of God we function BEST when our MINDS and our HEARTS and our LIVES are saturated with Jesus Christ. That my friend was the key to Paul's joy because he was able to say in Philippians 1:21 "For me to live is Christ…"
There is also a geographical location in which we live. To the people of Philippi, this location was not a celestial city, it was a Roman military town with all its vices, degeneration, angry mobs, witchcraft and profane crowds.
Have you ever asked yourself why God doesn’t give his saints more desirable places to live?
Have you ever said to yourself, “If only I could live in a place where there was no snow, or where I could be financially well off, I could live like a real Christian?”
How could God have ever put me in a place like Edwardsville, Wilkes-Barre, or you name your location of ___________?
Actually, I believe that God has you right where He does for a reason. As long as you are here, that reason is to OCCUPY and CAPTURE and HOLD this location for the cause of Jesus Christ and for the glory of God.
The Philippians were servants and saints right where they lived. Here was a church full of saints who despite the sinfulness of the city in which they lived, their surroundings, and their circumstances, they projected the life, nature and mind of Christ.
Where do you live? If you ask me that question, I have to say that spiritually for 57 years I have been in Christ Jesus. For the past 27 months, I’ve been here in this geographical location.
So far, from verse 1, we have seen WHO the Christian is and WHERE he lives. Now in closing, let's see from verse 2 what the Apostle Paul tells us about being a Christian.
Number 3. What the Christian receives: What he receives is Grace and Peace.
Someone said, "You may search the Word of God but you will never find peace first. It is always "grace and peace" never "peace and grace." They are the Siamese twins of the Bible. You cannot have peace until you first have been given grace. A man may search and seek until the end of his life, but until he receives grace through Christ, he can never have peace."
No one illustrates the concept of "peace through grace" better then John Newton. Although he started out life in a Christian home, he was orphaned at the age of six and ended up living with an agnostic relative. Newton was so abused that he ran away from home, joined the British Navy, deserted and ran away to Africa where he lived in sin to his fill.
In Africa, he joined forces with a Portuguese slave trader, and once again experienced cruelty. He again ran away and was finally picked up by a slave ship on it’s way to England.
One night in a drunken stupor, Newton fell into the sea and was narrowly saved from drowning by an officer who speared him with a harpoon.
Toward the end of the voyage, the ship on which Newton was sailing encountered heavy winds, and began to sink. Newton was sent down into the hold to help man the pumps. He was sure that the ship would sink.
As he worked, he began to cry out to God, remembering the verses he had been taught as a child. He was miraculously born again. He went on to become one of England's great preachers. By understanding his life, you can understand his most famous hymn:
Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.
Let me ask you. Does that characterize you this morning? Are you a Saint? Are you a Christian? Have you put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ?
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon "Saints Alive" right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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